The New York Islanders are back. Well, at least on Thursday evening they were. The Islanders came back from behind to beat their rivals, the New York Rangers, by a final score of 4-3 thanks to two goals by Frans Neilsen followed by John Tavares.
The Rangers defense fell apart drastically in the second period and having their backup goalie certainly didn’t help. Martin Biron did a sub-par job as the former Islander just couldn’t get a grip on the puck as the Islanders shot 31 shots against him during regulation and overtime. He was able to stop the bleeding in the third period and overtime, but that didn’t stop the Islanders as they came through in the shootout.
Tavares was strong throughout the game, proving he can be the team’s leader, something they’ve lacked over the past few seasons. The Islanders broke their five game losing streak and showed they can beat a playoff caliber team. They’ve beat some of the best teams this year, but haven’t been consistent enough which is worrisome for the team that’s going to Brooklyn in a few years.
It looked like the Rangers would continue to dominate the “New York rivalry” once again this season, but it turned out to be the opposite. Marian Gaborik continued to be the team leader that he’s grown to become as he scored a goal and had an assist against the Islanders. But, he and Rick Nash weren’t able to score against Islanders goalie, Evgeni Nabokov. Carl Hagelin is the future of the Rangers and showed that against the Islanders as he had a power play goal as well as an assist as he continues to grow into a full NHL player.
If the Islanders can keep up their fast paced game with the leadership of Tavares and Nabokov, it’s a possibility that they can make the playoffs. It may seem like a long-shot, but they can do it.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.